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In “Puss in Boots!” an Intrepid Cat Outsmarts a Terrible Ogre and Takes His Castle and Lands

George Kaiser as Puss charms Kirsten Ehlert as the Princess (photo by Jon Karnofsky)

George Kaiser as Puss charms Kirsten Ehlert as the Princess (photo by Jon Karnofsky)

The Cary Players will present a youth-theater production of Puss in Boots!Rowena Bennett’s delightful dramatization of the familiar fairy tale — on May 6-8, 13, and 14 at the Herbert C. Young Community Center in Cary, NC. Triangle theater veteran Staci Sabarsky will direct this perennially popular story about an intrepid feline who outsmarts and defeats a terrible ogre.

Sabarsky remembers, “I first read the script by Rowena Bennett last year. Of course, I have been familiar with the story since childhood, and Shrek brought the Puss character back into mainstream culture with Antonio Banderas’ wonderful interpretation.”

She adds, “[Puss in Boots!] is about cats! I own three cats who allow me and my husband to live with them.

“Despite what people say, cats are very loyal and devoted to their owners,” claims Sabarsky. “It’s this devotion and bond between Puss and his owner, Jack, that is at the root of this story.

“That devotion and connection appealed to me” Sabarsky says. “The script is also well written and will be entertaining both to adults and children — which is an important consideration when choosing a youth show to direct.”

When the curtain rises, says director Staci Sabarsky, “… Jack (Gus Allen) and [his cat] Puss (George Kaiser) [are] awaiting the return of Ratzel (Chris Bynum), who is returning from the reading of their father’s will. After learning that Puss is Jack’s only legacy, Ratzel kicks them both out; and they must learn how to survive on their own.

“Fortunately, after acquiring Ratzel’s boots, which he previously stole from the fiendish Ogre (Pat Berry), Puss is confident that he can not only earn a living for Jack, but can find him a royal bride,” explains Staci Sabarsky.

She adds, “While in the Enchanted Forest, they encounter a beautiful Princess (Kirsten Ehlert), a jovial King (Del Flack), his ill-tempered sister (Jeri McKee), and a woodsman (Paul Brown) who is not quite as sharp as his axe. It is after these encounters that Puss formulates his plan to marry his master off to the Princess and conquer the Ogre, thus claiming the Ogre’s castle and lands for Jack.”

Besides the actors named above, the Cary Players’ cast for Puss in Boots! Also includes Kevin Phipps as the ogre’s servant, Paul Yosim as the king’s servant, Leon Sabarsky as a Lord, and Kat Froehlich as a Lady.

In addition to director Staci Sabarsky, the Cary Players’ creative team for Puss in Boots! includes producers Debra Grannan and Jon Karnofsky, assistant director and make-up designer Angie Davis, set designer Jon Dietz, lighting designer Rick Young, costume designer David Serxner, properties manager Carole Kelly, sound designer Todd Houseknecht, and stage manager Keith Bugner.

Staci Sabarsky says, “The set will be simple and representational — just enough to help tell the story. For example, the Enchanted Forest will be a silhouette of trees. This will allow the children to use their imagination and keep set changes minimal.

“Act One begins at the Mill House of Jack and Ratzel, which lies on the edge of the Enchanted Forest,” notes Sabarsky. “Act Two takes place in the forest around an enchanting campfire created by our set designer Jon Deitz. Act Three takes place in the Ogre’s Garden, complete with human statues.”

Sabarsky adds, “Due to the restrictions of the performance space, [the] lighting will be simple. [But] A few specials will be used to make the magic happen….

“The costumes, designed by David Serxner, are inspired by the Renaissance period,” says Sabarsky. “Rich jewel-tone colors will be used to contrast the neutral colors of the set. We also wanted the children to easily identify the characters and their personalities through their costumes and appearance.”

Director Staci Sabarsky notes, “One of the biggest challenges [in staging Puss in Boots!] was finding the right actor to play Puss. It was a tough decision on whether to cast a male or a female to play Puss.

“Traditionally,” says Sabarsky, “[Puss has been] played by a male, but we had many strong female feline contenders. Fortunately, I found George Kaiser, who is not only a wonderful actor, but a triple black belt, which allowed him to give Puss great physical strength as well as strength of character.”

She adds, “[Puss in Boots!] is accessible and entertaining for all ages. The run time is just over an hour, with one intermission after Act One. Parents may rest assured that the Ogre won’t be too scary, so there’s no need to worry about nightmares!”

SECOND OPINION: April 28th Cary, NC Cary Citizen preview by Lindsey Chester: http://www.carycitizen.com/2011/04/28/theatre-puss-in-boots-is-the-cats-meow/.

The Cary Players present PUSS IN BOOTS! at 7 p.m. May 6 and 7, 3 p.m. May 8, 7 p.m. May 13, and 3 and 7 p.m. May 14 at the Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave., Cary, North Carolina 27513.

TICKETS: $12 ($10 students and seniors and $8 children 12 and under).

BOX OFFICE: 800/745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115426/76943.

SHOW: http://caryplayers.org/boots.html.

PRESENTER: http://caryplayers.org/.

VENUE/DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.townofcary.org/.

NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 3 p.m. May 14th performance, which will also be sign-language interpreted.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://www.samuelfrench.com/store/product_info.php/products_id/4309 (Samuel French, Inc.).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

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